By Prince Etim
The hopes of the entire African continent were pinned on the Teranga Lions of Senegal. Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Nigeria had all lost out in the group stages and Senegal were the last hope at Russia 2018. They already had a decent tally of points and only needed to avoid a draw and finish second on the group. But they played a 0-1 loss to Colombia and then tied with Japan on points.
Now every football fan knows when teams have the same points, the goal difference is the difference: teams who have scored more goals than conceded go through. Here’s where it got bizarre: Senegal and Japan had the same goal difference- 0. As it stood, the FIFA officials decided to settle it with an obscure ‘fair play rule’.
According to the rule, teams are deducted points for yellow cards received during the tournament. Compared to Japan’s three yellow cards, Senegal had received three bookings since the competition started. And that’s how they were eliminated from the world cup.
It is the first time such method would be used to decide the winner of a match. It is also the first time since 1982 that an African country will not play in the second round of the FIFA World Cup.
Senegal would undoubtedly feel hard-done-by at the turn of the events but considering their output on the night was relatively mediocre, they will have no complaints. They had more shots than their opponents, eight in fact, but they could not make any of it count. ‘It is a shame but this is the law of the game,‘ said their coach Aliou Cisse. ‘Senegalese players are highly committed and I cannot ask them to go out and avoid yellow cards. It is difficult to win football matches without commitment.’
Colombia now join fifteen other teams that have qualified for the second round of the world cup. When hostilities commence over the weekend, they will face England (who also lost to Belgium 0-1 and finished second in their group.)
The other pairings are France vs Argentina, Spain vs Russia, Uruguay vs Portugal, Croatia vs Demark, Belgium vs Japan, Sweden vs Switzerland and Brazil versus Mexico. The round of 16 starts on Saturday June 30.
By the way, there’s an ongoing joke that a sixth African country is still in the world cup- France. Out of the twenty-three-man team, fourteen are of African heritage. Les Bleus have always had a healthy roster of Africans in their squads.
France. They are Africans based in Europe https://t.co/whZKJ7DnrE
— Flacko🇳🇬 (@abraham_a_7) June 28, 2018
The most popular French footballer of all time, Zinedine Zidane is of direct Algerian descent.
Tomorrow, we would bring you a full list of all Africa’s lost sons: footballers of African descent who are competing for other nations at Russia 2018.